Category Archives: Pasta

Savory Cavatappi with Pork Sausage and Veggies


I truly love discovering quality foods to cook with…recently I came across Applegate Farms Breakfast Sausage at my local Whole Foods Market.  The sausages are really, really, really good. Really. So, I thought, why limit myself to just breakfast?  Inspired by my dad’s recipe for a 1960s favorite—Egg Noodles and Sausage Toss—I devised this recipe. It’s a hit, except with my son who dislikes green things in his food. Oh well, like so many good-for-you foods, in Sam’s case, the spinach is optional.

Savory Cavatappi with Pork Sausage & Veggies

(serves 6)

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta (or try bowties, penne, etc., any shape will do!)
  • 4 tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided
  • 1 package (8 ounces) Applegate Farms Classic Pork Breakfast Sausage
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes (any colors and varieties), halved
  • about 6 ounces  baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • small basil leaves, optional

Cook the Cavatappi according to package directions. Before draining it, reserve 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the reserved cooking liquid, and toss. Cover the pasta to keep it warm.

While the pasta is cooking, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet, and saute the sausage  over medium low heat. Remove the sausage to a cutting board.  Slice the sausage diagonally into 1 inch pieces.

Keeping the heat on medium low, add the onions and garlic to the pan, and saute them for a few minutes until they soften.  Add the tomatoes and cook them for 2 minutes, then add the sliced sausages. Next, add the spinach and cook it until it just begins to wilt. Be careful not to overcook it, since it will become mushy and lose its brilliant green color.

Pour the sausage mixture over the pasta, and gently toss it. Sprinkle it with the Parmesan cheese, then add salt and pepper to taste, and  toss it again.

If you like, add some small basil leaves and a sprinkling of extra Parmesan cheese to each serving.

This recipe lends itself to all kinds of good veggie variations, so have fun experimenting!

Heather

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Filed under Entertaining, Pasta, Pork, Sausage, Vegetables

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Here at A LA CARTE we are passionate about our Mac ‘n Cheese.

In fact, we have rules.

#1 Mac ’n Cheese must not be from a box. EVER.

#2 Mac ’n Cheese must be made with a quality aged cheddar.

#3 Mac ’n Cheese must not have unnecessary add-ins. No broccoli, no tuna, no bacon, no chicken, no lobster. No exceptions.

Classic Macaroni & Cheese
Makes about 8 servings

1 pkg. (16 oz.)  cavatappi pasta ( elbows, gemelli, or penne)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
2 cups milk
8 ounces aged cheddar, shredded

– Preheat oven to 375°.

– Grease bottom and sides of 2-quart casserole.

– Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to cooking pot.

– Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Using whisk, stir in flour, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until well blended.

– Slowly add milk to flour mixture, whisking constantly. When sauce begins to thicken, remove from heat. Let mixture cool for about five minutes.

– Stir in cheese until melted.

– Pour cheese sauce over cooked pasta in pot. Mix well. Transfer to casserole.

– Bake uncovered at 375° for 30 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

In the photo above, we’ve used cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta and a 3 year old extra-aged artisanal cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese Company, called Grafton Gold.

We’d offer to share, but it’s all gone!

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Filed under Cheese, Main Dishes, Pasta, Side Dishes

Fig-mania

Okay, is it just me, or is there a fig craze afoot? From fig vinegars and fig chutneys to fig spreads and fig jams, I seem to be encountering figs everywhere I turn. Just yesterday I noticed pint baskets of fresh figs at my local supermarket. And last month, while driving to the beach in North Carolina, I stopped at Morris Farm Market and what was the first thing I spotted?  A gorgeous display of fresh figs!

I bought a quart and we enjoyed experimenting with them over the next few days…we tried them grilled on pizza, drizzled with olive oil and added to arugula salad, and we even invented a bittersweet chocolate & fig dessert sauce that we poured over vanilla ice cream. Today, I was walking along Canal Street in Chinatown and there among the dried lychees and live crabs were, yes, pints of fresh figs, at the very reasonable price of two for $3!

So, in the spirit of fig-mania, we present Cathy’s latest fig concoction. And if you have a favorite fig recipe, please share it!

Heather

Tortelloni with Sautéed Figs & Goat Cheese
makes 2 main dish servings or 4 appetizer servings

3 Tbs. butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
6 figs, quartered (I used Kadota figs)
2 Tbs. chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 pkg. (9 oz) fresh portabello mushroom and cheese tortelloni (or your favorite
tortelloni or tortellini)
3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

– In large skillet, heat butter over medium heat until lightly browned.  Add onions; cook and stir until browned.  Remove onions from skillet.  To skillet, add figs, walnuts, salt and pepper; cook until figs just start to soften. Remove skillet from heat.

-Meanwhile, cook tortelloni according to package directions, draining and reserving 2 Tbs. pasta water.

– To skillet, add tortelloni, reserved pasta water, cooked onions, goat cheese and basil; cook over low heat just until cheese melts.  Serve immediately.

FUN FIG FACTS

The most common figs grown in the United States come from California, and are generally available from mid-May thru mid-December. The four common varieties include:

Mission: deep purple skin (darkens to a rich black when dried) with pink flesh; sweet
Kadota:  green skinned with amber flesh; practically seedless; slightly sweet
Calimyrna:  golden skin with pink flesh; nutty flavor
Brown Turkey:  brownish copper skin with pink/red flesh; mildly sweet

Use fresh figs within a day or so after buying them as they are very fragile!

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Filed under Cheese, Fruit, Main Dishes, Pasta